Many steps needed to become religious sister
February 20, 2020
By KATHRYN HARRIS
Joining the Missionary Benedictine Sisters has been a lengthy process for Sister Sarah Elizabeth McMahon.
That’s what the 29-year-old South Dakota native wants people to know when they ask if she thinks she’s too young to make a life-changing decision like becoming a religious sister.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily too young to be making that decision because it’s made with a lot of input from the community and from our prayer life,” she said.
Joining the order begins with affiliation, in which those interested in learning the way of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters develop an informational relationship with those within the community. Affiliates continue with their normal life while a spiritual director assists with spiritual growth, as well as social and emotional maturity.
Postulants mark the second step. Through prayer, work and guidance, postulants are introduced to the nature of religious life and the spirituality and history of the community.
Then, a novitiate period lasts for about two years. The Rite of Initiation into novitiate takes place in the presence of the prioress and the community. Novices receive white clothing and the basic documents of the priory and congregation.
The first year of the novitiate is the canonical year, when there is little contact with the outside world, said Sister Laura Ann Haschke, who recently made her first profession of vows to the Missionary Benedictine Sisters.
“The first year of the novitiate – the canonical year – is to deepen your prayer life,” Sister Laura Ann said. “You’re not allowed on social media, friends can’t visit you, you can talk to your family, but it’s limited.”
Sister Laura Ann said friends sent her letters during her canonical year, and she spoke with her parents once a week on the telephone. But, she added, the year that seemed daunting to her at first ended up being one of the biggest blessings because it allowed her to rediscover her passion for reading, art and music.
“It was the year of the most self-discovery. I was allowed to get bored,” she said. “It made me start to realize that God is calling me to this life. It was allowing me to become more of myself. That’s what you are supposed to discover.”
The second novitiate year puts a more intense focus on mission work and generally is followed by the first profession of vows, which takes place in a simple Mass celebration. In this period, the new sister receives her habit, veil and religious name.
The final profession of vows comes after a period of temporary profession, which can last more than 3 ½ years. Final profession also is celebrated during Mass, during which the sister receives a ring as a pledge of her fidelity.
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This story is courtesy of the Norfolk Daily News. See the link here.